Hoshino Michio’s Journey
July 14 ― September 30, 2018

Hoshino Michio (1952–1996) moved to Alaska in 1978, and over the course of nearly 20 years, conducted and documented numerous Arctic expeditions. Hoshino’s work, in which he breathtakingly captured myriad aspects of the magnificent natural landscape on film while further exploring it in writing, continues to touch the hearts of viewers, inquiring into the evolving relationship between nature and civilization, and provoking thought on the nature of contemporary life.
This exhibition presents the world of Hoshino as expressed in photographs and words, organized around multiple themes including “Masterpieces,” documenting nature in its pure state; “Correlations of Life,” which convey how life survives, generation after generation, in a harsh environment; and the “Mythical Realm,” which portrays the spirituality of people living in the far North. Also on view are materials such as the cameras and kayaks Hoshino used while shooting photographs in the wild, and rarely seen documentary video footage and handwritten manuscripts, immersing viewers in the world of the far North that Hoshino was devoted to portraying.

Remains of Whale Bones and Half Moon over the Bering Sea (Chukchi Peninsula, Russia)


Hoshino Michio was born in 1952 in Ichikawa, Chiba, Japan. He graduated from Keio University in 1976 with a degree in economics, and worked for two years as an assistant to pioneering animal photographer Tanaka Kojo. In 1978 he enrolled at the University of Alaska, majoring in wildlife management. Hoshino won the Anima Award in 1986 and the Kimura Ihei Award in 1990. In 1996, when filming a documentary on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia, he suddenly died after being attacked by a brown bear. In 1999 Special Award of the Photographic Society of Japan was posthumously awarded. From the 1980s onward, he contributed photographs and travelogues from Alaska to Japanese and overseas magazines such as National Geographic, Anima, and Shukan Asahi. Hoshino also published numerous books including Inuuniq [Life] (1993), The Traveling Tree (1994), and Of Forests, Glaciers, and Whales (1996). Since his death, exhibitions and publication of his work continues.

Hoshino Michio, Waiting for Migrating Caribou

1952 Born in Ichikawa, Chiba
1968 Enrolled at Keio Senior High School
1969 Traveled to Los Angeles aboard the immigrant vessel Argentina Maru
   Traveled alone in the US for approximately two months
1971 Enrolled in the Faculty of Economics at Keio University and joined the Exploration Club
1973 Spent a summer living with an Eskimo family in the village of Shishmaref, Alaska
1976 Graduated from Keio University
   Began working as an assistant to pioneering animal photographer Tanaka Kojo (continued for two years thereafter)
1978 Began attending English school in Seattle with the aim of entering the University of Alaska
   Enrolled in the University of Alaska, Department of Wildlife Management (studied there for four years)
1986 Won 3rd Anima Award for Grizzly
1990 Won 15th Kimura Ihei Award for series in Shukan Asahi
1993 Married
1996 Travels to Kurilskoye Lake on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia with a television film crew
   Killed by a brown bear on August 8
1999 Honored with Special Award from the Photographic Society of Japan


Hoshino’s view of the world, in photographs and words
With his camera, Hoshino compellingly captured the natural splendor of the far North. In addition to his photographs, he wrote extensively based on ideas developed during his travels. In this exhibition, excerpts from Hoshino’s writings are exhibited alongside his pictures, immersing the viewer in the wonders of Hoshino’s world.

The world of the spirit that remains as his legacy
Over nearly 20 years of interaction with indigenous people of the far North whom he got to know on his travels, Hoshino came to know and cherish their spiritual values, which are being forgotten in contemporary society, and enthusiastically documented their lifestyles. This exhibition conveys his keen sensibilities and all-encompassing perspective, which went beyond documenting the Arctic natural environment and captured the spiritual essence of its people.

A wide range of materials place Hoshino’s work in context
Items such as the camera that Hoshino carried with him, the kayak he used for transport, documentary footage that shows him up close, handwritten manuscripts, magazines featuring his work and more provide background for the creative inspiration he found in the far North, and his activities in the then-burgeoning field of nature photography.

Humpback Whale Breaching

5 Sections

● Encounter with Alaska
The photography book Alaska, which inspired Hoshino to visit the state, contains an aerial photograph of a village that captured his eyes and his heart. This exhibition presents that book and the original letter that Hoshino wrote to the mayor of Shishmaref village, showing the point where Hoshino’s long journey began.

● Masterpieces
Hoshino photographed the far North during approximately 20 years of travel. Here an extensive collection of his photographic masterpieces capturing the landscape in all its natural glory is presented in the form of large color prints.

● Correlations of Life
In this section, photographs of animals such as humpback whales, caribou, and grizzly bears visually convey the dynamics and connections of life amid the harsh environment of the extreme North, probing into the very nature of life itself.

● Mythical Realm
Hoshino closely interacted with local people, and took a keen interest in the philosophy and spirituality that emerges in human societies amid harsh natural environments, repeatedly focusing on these themes later in life. Exhibited here are works relating to the legend of the raven, widespread among peoples of the far North, as well as images of Eskimo whaling and of Siberia, across the Bering Sea from Alaska.

● Hoshino Michio’s Room
Surviving materials convey the nature of Hoshino’s work as a photographer in the far North, including cameras and boots he took with him on photography trips, a kayak he used to get around Alaska, documentary footage showing him at work, and self-portraits he took while at work. Also featured are handwritten manuscripts and magazines featuring his work, conveying his activities in the field of nature photography, which was then making great advances due to technological progress.
Aurora and Full Moon, Dancing in the Night Sky
Dall Sheep, Mother and Child, Living in Mountain Country
In Search of Whales on a White Night in the Arctic Ocean

Photos: Hoshino Michio   (c) Naoko Hoshino

Related Events

● Opening Talk
with Naoko Hoshino (Director, Michio Hoshino Office) and Masashi Matsuie (Novelist, editor)
Date: July 14, 2018 15:00-16:30
Venue: Clematis no Oka Hall
Admission: Free (with exhibition ticket)
Reservation required (To reserve, please call: 055-989-8780)

We are pleased to welcome these two special guests, both of whom played a central role in this project. They will share behind-the-scenes information about the exhibition, anecdotes about Hoshino’s photography and writing, his passion for the image and the word and the messages he entrusted to them.

● Curator’s Gallery Talk
Date: July 28, August 11 and 25, September 8 and 22 at 14:15 (please come to the museum’s reception desk; the event will take about 30 min.)
Admission: Free (with exhibition ticket)
No reservations required

● Gallery Talk for Families
Date: July 30 and 31 at 11:15 and 13:45 (please come to the museum’s reception desk; the event will take about 30 min.)
Admission: Free (with exhibition ticket)
No reservation required

  Organizers: IZU PHOTO MUSEUM, Asahi Shimbun  With the special cooperation of: Michio Hoshino Office
  With the cooperation of: Fuji Film Imaging Systems
  With the support of: Shizuoka Prefectural Board of Education, Nagaizumi Board of Education